lick. Jazz critics raved about Pepper throughout his East Coast tour. In Gary Giddins’ July 4, 1977 article for The Village Voice titled In Praise of Art Pepper - Art Pepper: The Whiteness of the Wail, he stated that, “His present work is alive with splintered tones, modal arpeggios, furious double timing, and acerbic wit. He continues to play from deep inside ... He plays like a knowing athlete, trained and poised.” Pepper’s musical self- assurance is staggering when taking into account his state of mind and body off of the bandstand, as can be seen in the earlier quote from his biography. Yet jazz is filled with these examples of players who soar to the highest heights onstage, while plummeting through downward spirals of self-destruction in their personal lives. This concert and those of the Village Vanguard feature Pepper at his most brilliant, during one of his darkest periods after having kicked heroin. Fortunately, things improved for Pepper after returning from his tour of the East Coast. As usual, his wife Laurie was a tremendous help in keeping him from getting into all kinds of trouble with dirty drugs, and unsavory characters in dangerous neighborhoods. Pepper discussed his return to music, among other things in a 1979 interview with Les Tomkins. An excerpt follows: “Alto is just a very hard instrument; there’s so few people that play it really well. I feel it’s the best one, too, now. At first I didn’t feel that way; I wanted to be a tenor player. It took a long time for me to feel that alto was the most expressive of the saxophones. “ ... When I finally got into music again, I had a very good background. You never forget this innate thing that you’ve gone through, learning the technical aspects of the instrument, things like that. You had to reach the point where you were at a long time before, and then you could move on to different things. It took a long time. I didn’t achieve it from practicing a lot–just from thinking about music, I was able to learn. The period when I wasn’t playing much, I’d put music out of my mind. “The composing side I just did on my own. I never studied arranging, or anything like that, but I would do it by asking questions of people that did write. So I learned just by doing. When I had my own albums, I would write the tunes, because I felt that if I were playing my tunes I was able to do more what I wanted to do-they were the right frameworks. More so than a song by somebody else-except for certain songs that are really excellent, standards that I really feel and like to play ... Writing is very difficult, when you haven’t studied it; notation and such things take longer!’ It is clear that Pepper was as comfortable with the Jazz Showcase material as he was with the superb backing band and the enthusiastic audience. As Peter Keepnews so eloquently explained in the liner notes to the Village Vanguard recordings, “there are times when a gig is just a gig, and there are times when a gig is an electrifying emotional high, the kind of transcendent experience that stays with you maybe for years and maybe forever.” To this listener’s ears Art Pepper’s Jazz Showcase performance is an example of the latter. “If you have individuality in music, it’s something to hold on to!’ - Art Pepper Ricky Cohen (2010)
These liner notes & this album reproduced & copyrighted by Arthur Pepper Music Corporation All “Straight Life” text copyrighted by Arthur Pepper Music Corporation All photos by Laurie Pepper “Art Pepper” is a trademark belonging to Arthur Pepper Music Corporation and may not be used to profit any entity besides the Estate of Art Pepper and its assigns.